Home > Mortgages > 8 Tax Breaks Most Homeowners Don’t Realize They Can Get

Comments 0 Comments

It’s tax season again, and if you bought a new home in 2016, you want to be sure you don’t miss out on one of the numerous tax deductions you could be eligible for. Even if you aren’t a new homeowner, there could be some deductions you might not be aware of that can help you maximize your tax refund.

We spoke with Mark Luscombe, principal analyst at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. He reviewed some of the tax deductions home owners should be aware of as they begin working on their tax returns.

1. Mortgage Interest

“In 2016, the IRS acquiesced in the Ninth Circuit Voss case, which changes the way the mortgage interest deduction is calculated,” Luscombe said. “The IRS now says it is allowed on a per taxpayer rather than a per residence basis.”

That means that, if you own a home with an unrelated taxpayer, you are now each entitled to a mortgage interest deduction of up to $1 million of mortgage principal for funds used to purchase, construct or improve a home and an additional $100,000 of principal for a loan secured by the home but where the funds are used for other purposes.

“This also creates another marriage penalty in the Tax Code since, if the two taxpayers get married, then they are just entitled to a mortgage interest deduction up to the $1.1 million limit,” Luscombe added.

2. Mortgage Insurance Premiums & Debt Forgiveness

The deduction for mortgage insurance premiums expired at the end of 2016 but is still available for 2016 tax returns. Likewise, the exclusion for mortgage debt forgiveness also expired at the end of 2016 but is still available for 2016 tax returns.

“In order to try to better determine if taxpayers are claiming the proper amount of mortgage interest deduction, mortgage lenders are now required to report on Form 1098 not only the mortgage interest received for the year but also now the principal amount of the mortgage, the date the mortgage originated, and the address of the property,” Luscombe said. So be sure to download or request a copy of your Form 1098 if you haven’t already received one in the mail.

3. Energy-Related Tax Deductions

There are two energy-related tax breaks that homeowners can qualify for.

  • The nonbusiness energy property credit expired at the end of 2016 but is available for 2016 tax returns.  This credit is a $500 lifetime credit for improvements such as energy-efficient windows, doors, insulation and roofs, as well as certain home systems.
  • There is also a residential energy efficient property credit for items such as solar and wind installations that currently extends through 2021 but is subject to phase-downs over its final years.

4. Capital Gains Exclusion

If you’ve owned and lived in your principal residence for at least two of the last five years, then the exclusion for gain on its sale remains available. The exclusion is up to $250,000 of gain for a single taxpayer and up to $500,000 of gain for joint filers, Luscombe said.

5. Inheritance of Property

When you inherit an asset, the cost basis of the asset is “stepped up to value” on the date of death, which helps you avoid capital gains taxes on that property. Here’s how it works: Let’s say your grandfather just died, leaving a home to you and your siblings. The home is valued at $500,000 at the time of your grandfather’s death, but the original price paid for the home, the basis, when he bought it 30 years ago was $100,000. While you and your siblings may have to pay estate or inheritance taxes depending on the size of the estate, you won’t have to pay capital gains taxes on $400,000 in gains on the house.

“Stepped-up basis on death remains available for a principal residence, as well as other taxpayer assets on death,” Luscombe said. “However, with discussions about eliminating the estate tax and shifting to carryover basis, it is not clear how much longer current law will remain in effect. Stepped-up basis means that the inheritor of the residence who then sells the residence would likely have minimal taxable gain because their basis would be stepped-up to the date of death value of the residence.”

6. Property Taxes

Currently, real estate taxes with respect to a residence may also be deducted, although tax reform proposals being discussed in Congress would eliminate that deduction.

7. Home Office Expenses

If you use part of your home for business operations, you may be able to deduct some of your business expenses. The home office deduction is available for homeowners and renters, and applies to all types of homes, according to the Internal Revenue Service, which provides details and a full explanation of the requirements to claim this deduction on its website.

8. Moving Expenses

If you moved because you changed jobs or your business relocated, or if you started a new job or business, you may be eligible to deduct your moving expenses. The IRS explains that you must meet the following criteria in order to qualify.

  • Your move closely relates to the start of work
  • You meet the distance test
  • You meet the time test

Again, you can find a full explanation of these criteria on the IRS website. And for more answers to all those question bound to pop up between now and April 15, check out our tax learning center.

Image: Portra

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other sponsored content on Credit.com are Partners with Credit.com. Credit.com receives compensation if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any financial products or cards offered.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.



Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team